LAWTON S. PARKER (1868-1954)
7 1/2" x 6 1/2", Pencil on Paper 20167
Lawton Silas Parker (1868-1954)
A part of the resident group of Impressionists called the Giverny Group in the early 20th century, Lawton Parker was among the better known Americans that lived at Giverny near the studio-home of Claude Monet.
He was born in Fairfield, Michigan but grew up on a farm in Nebraska. He did not stay long, and as a teenager first studied at the Chicago Art Institute , and in 1889 went to Paris where he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and then the Academie Julian, both extremely renowned and exclusive programs.
In the next few years he had intermittent teaching positions, won several awards, and was constantly travelling between the United States and Europe. He taught at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts in 1892 and the Chicago Fine Arts Academy. In Paris, he ran the Parker Academy, his own school of painting.
After this period he arrived in Giverny and fell in love with it. Under this influence, he, with solid academic training, made the transition from a career primarily focused on portrait painting to figures in landscapes. Although he was labelled an Impressionist, he stayed much closer to nature in his coloration than many of his peers in this style.
He became close friends with Guy Rose, Frederick Frieseke, and Richard Miller, who were also in residence there, and eventually they exhibited together in New York City, sometimes referring to themselves at The Luminists.
In 1913, he was awarded the first medal of The Society of French Artists, which was remarkable for an American.
He spent most of his time in France and during World War II, Parker was held in Paris for two years by the Nazi regime until he, wearing peasant disguise, escaped into unoccupied territory. During this time, his home in Giverny was destroyed along with many of his paintings.
He settled with his family in Pasadena, California, and was the subject of an exhibition at the Pasadena Art Institute in 1945. For the remainder of his life, Parker worked in relative obscurity, his colorful impressionist style eclipsed by more up-to-date artistic approaches. He lived the rest of his life there, and died at 86 in 1954.
Biography adapted from the Freeman Letters and the M. Christine Schwartz Collection biographies.